Hello and welcome to Twin Cities Music Highlights! This is my effort to gather information about live popular music in Minneapolis and St. Paul from the beginning of time to 1974, with an emphasis on connections to St. Louis Park, my home town. I invite all additions, corrections, and especially personal stories, so feel free to contact me!
I am no computer whiz, and this site was recently converted to WordPress, which I am very bad at, so please don’t expect many bells and whistles. I think I have fixed most of the broken links, but these break all the time, unfortunately, as websites come and go. Also, my pictures mysteriously disappear from time to time, so that will explain mysterious blank spaces.
Most of the photos on this site have been taken from the Internet and I have made every effort to give the source. If I have swiped your photo without permission or attribution, please let me know. I have lots more to add, so stay tuned!
Please note that I do NOT list local bands because there are just hundreds of them. The best source on local bands is minniepaulmusic.com, which has loads of info, pictures, posters, and interviews. Another web site is Garage Hangover (14 Minnesota bands). There are a few exceptions, however, mostly to do with bands from St. Louis Park; they are in the index below.
The Events and Venues pages are both very long, and I suggest you use the search function on your browser to find what you’re looking for. Events is strictly chronological, and Venues is alphabetical. Events and Venues that were significant enough to merit their own pages are listed below.
Much of the research I have done would not be possible without the incredible help of the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting, which by sheer coincidence is where my husband, Steve Raymer, has been the Managing Director for over 20 years. The Pavek has provided me with contact information for so many broadcasters, access to photos, and much more personal assistance than I can recount. They’re great people and it’s a fun museum, so if you haven’t been there, I can’t recommend it highly enough. Plus they have the box of Formula 63 that Sam Sherwood gave me!
As importantly, Timothy D. Kehr gave me so much help, support, contacts, and encouragement over the years. He didn’t know me from Adam but was so incredibly generous with his time and knowledge. It still feels strange that I can’t pick up the phone and call him with a question.
Pam Albinson, Queen of the Lakes of 1962, is the Keeper of the Flame of the Aquatennial, in conjunction with the Hennepin History Museum. In addition to the information I found in her book, Seventy-Five Years of the Minneapolis Aquatennial, she sent me a list of national entertainers who came to town for the summer festival. For fun I posted all of them, not just musical acts. How fun to know that David Cassidy was Grand Marshall of the 1972 Grande Day Parade!
A big Thanks to Mark Karnowski, who sent a list of State Fair Grandstand shows.
The list of Met Center shows comes from Lou Nanne’s book on the history of the Northstars.
Guthrie shows were generously sent to me by James D. Scott, General Manager of the Guthrie. Also see an array of pamphlets on their blog.
Many of the events from March 1969 to June 1974 were taken from upcoming events calendars and ads in the Insider. I also have a smattering of other local teen music magazines (see Publications) with some information.
My friend Ellen Lewis made the great suggestion that I read through back issues of the Minneapolis Spokesman, the newspaper of the city’s African-American community since 1934. I started at 1947 and found some phenomenal rhythm & blues shows, mostly taking place at the Labor Temple.
Will Jones’ column in the Minneapolis Tribune was usually very entertaining and had great info and background. Jones retired in 1984 and died in 2004 at the age of 80.
Interviews with some of the old DJs and radio people brought some fascinating stories about how things came to pass. I was able to interview Herb Oscar Anderson, Dick Driscoll, Bill Diehl, Sam Sherwood, John Evans, Bill Armstrong, and Vic Tedesco, and others.
The Minnesota Daily has most of their issues on line. I started looking through them in 1952 but I have a long way to go!
For a teen perspective there are references to the St. Louis Park High School Echo newspaper.
My buddy Wayne Elliot Klayman just happened to have a stack of ads for concerts from 1969 to 1972, saving me a ton of time, effort, and quarters!
The Old Minneapolis Facebook page has been a huge source of photos and information. I gave up asking for permission to quote people, so I’ve just put quotes around their comments without their names. If you see your quote and would allow me to use your name, please let me know.
In May 1964 U of M graduate student Robert A. Stebbins completed his Ph.D. thesis, The Jazz Community: The Sociology of a Musical Sub-Culture. This was a huge find!
- Chapter 4 is a history of jazz in Minneapolis, the first compiled from the music form’s inception until the late 1930s. Stebbins noted that contemporary histories of jazz have bypassed the Twin Cities.
- He also provided an incredibly detailed list and description of the various jazz venues – using sources such as telephone books, he researched when various venues existed, and in many cases noted house bands for particular venues. This information is documented in the Venues section.
- The paper also contains detailed information on performers who came through town, dates, etc. This information is reflected in the Events section.
Much of the information on jazz venues comes from Joined at the Hip: A History of Jazz in the Twin Cities by Jay Goetting, MHS Press (2011). A must read.
The Minnesota Historical Society has copies of an apparently short-lived newspaper called the Republican Register, dedicated to electing Dewey for President. The copies run from 1941-1944 and for some reason included ads by just about every bar in the Twin Cities and surrounding area. No explanation for this, but it is a treasure trove of information for venues with live entertainment.
In 1984 Richard Raichelson put out an album called “Twin Cities Shuffle – 1927 To 1930,” with some amazing early local recordings, many made at the Lowry Hotel in St. Paul. Mr. Raichelson was graciously allowed me to quote from the album notes.
For a rural perspective, the Hennepin County Enterprise, highlighting events in and around Hopkins, was consulted for entertainment in the hinterlands in the teens and 1920s.
Tom Prin loaned me his memorabilia, and one of the articles came from the magazine Select. That led to many hours of looking through this guide to Twin Cities nightlife, and I’m not done yet!
Paige Wingert, the granddaughter of jazz drummer Bob Benham, also loaned me her family photos, etc., and there were some bombshells in there, including the story of the first integrated band in downtown Minneapolis. I haven’t entered it yet but I’ll put a link to it when I do. The article was in a newsletter called The St. Paul Musician, and I’m in the midst of spending hours at the Minnesota Historical Society racking up lots of St. Paul venues.